Friday, February 25, 2011

Shrek 2

Shrek Forever After was the eighth-highest domestic-grossing film of 2010. I've already reviewed the original Shrek here. This is the review for Shrek 2, which was released in 2004, and was the top domestic-grossing film of its year. The original Shrek passed the Reverse Bechdel within five minutes, but only passed one level of the Original Bechdel. Will its sequel fare any better?

The first man is Prince Charming, with the opening narration.

blug1.png blug2.png The second "man" is the Big Bad Wolf. I'm assuming he counts as a man, since he speaks with a man's voice. On the other hand, he is consistently seen in grandma's outfit, but that's a separate issue (even the Fairy Godmother later calls him "gender-confused"). Prince Charming climbs Fiona's tower to rescue her and finds the Big Bad Wolf there instead, who tells Charming that Fiona is on her honeymoon. Since they're talking about Fiona, it doesn't RB-3, but it does pass RB-2.

I'm not sure whether it should count or not, but the first woman with any audible lines is the mermaid who takes Fiona's spot kissing Shrek when the waves crash over them. Fiona drags her away, and the mermaid cries out, "Ow, ow, ow!" before being tossed into the sea (and apparently eaten by sharks).

blug3.png When Shrek and Fiona go back to Shrek's place, they find Donkey. Shrek and Donkey exchange a few lines about Donkey staying there, and how he hasn't sorted the mail, watered the plants or fed the fish. Shrek tries to get Donkey to leave, but...

pink1.png ...Fiona interrupts with her first actual line, the second line by a woman in the movie, asking whether Donkey should get back to Dragon. About the six-minute mark, Shrek 2 has passed RB-3 and OB-1, which is the same level as the original Shrek reached for the entire movie. A third woman speaks up when they reach Far Far Away, and can be heard saying, "Hey, everyone look..." when Fiona passes by in her horse-drawn onion. The fourth woman is Fiona's mother the Queen, who gets her first lines when Fiona and Shrek arrive at their castle, talking with Fiona's father the King.

Just before the 15-minute mark, Fiona says, "Mom, Dad, I'd like you to meet my husband..." Although this doesn't pass OB-2 since her mother doesn't respond, it is closer than the original Shrek ever got. Fiona and the Queen both have several lines during dinner (with Shrek, Donkey and the King also present), but only one of the lines is directly between the two women-- While the pig is in the air, Fiona says, "Mom..." but the Queen says, "Harold..."

pink2.png pink3.png Immediately after dinner, Fiona goes to her room and cries on her balcony. Her Fairy Godmother shows up and strikes up a conversation.

Fairy Godmother: "Oh my dear, look at you, you're all um... grown up."
Fiona: "Um... who are you?"
Fairy Godmother: "Oh, sweet pea. I'm you're fairy godmother."
Fiona: "I have a fairy godmother?"
Fairy Godmother: "Shush shush shush, now don't worry. I'm here to make it all better..."

Shrek 2 passes both Bechdel tests in a reasonable amount of time. However, most conversations before the arrival of Puss-in-Boots take place between people of both genders-- either Shrek and Fiona, the King and Queen, the King and the Fairy Godmother, the King and the Ugly Stepsister, or within some group, like the group at dinner, or the Fairy Godmother, Prince Charming, the King and the female drive-thru worker at Friar's Fat Boy.

Even so, the film is still male-dominated (again, not surprising given the title character). The three main heroes are all male (Shrek, Donkey and Puss-in-Boots), and much of the dialogue of the movie takes place between the three of them. Although Fiona is the focus of everyone's attention, overall she is fairly passive, while those around her enact their different plots. In the end, she only avoids a life with Prince Charming because her father chose not to give her the love potion.

Still, considering that the original Shrek didn't even pass OB-2, Shrek 2 has a much stronger feminine presence. Of the eight main characters credited at the end of the movie (Shrek, Donkey, Fiona, the Queen, Puss-in-Boots, the King, Prince Charming, and the Fairy Godmother), three of them are women-- that's as many female characters as the original Shrek had in the entire movie.

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